I was looking at my older daughter's facebook account, and saw it was filled with pictures of groups of kids smiling, laughing, having an amazing time together. My first thought was, Ahhh, to be young again - how fun. It wasn't until I saw a group that my daughter is close friends with, and she clearly wasn't invited to that outing of assumed bliss, that I thought about all the insecurities facebook could bring into someone's life.
Facebook isn't an everyday addition for me, but I use it as just another media outlet. I spend countless hours waiting and watching. Watching sports, waiting to pick someone up, watching playgroups, waiting for a practice to be over... With smart phones, FB works out great because basically it gives me cheap entertainment.
However, occasionally I'll run across a friend's photo and think, wow, they have some incredible experiences. My other immediate thought is, how do they have the time for all that socialization - maybe I'm doing something wrong. I seriously haven't worried about my social standing in 20 years, why am I suddenly thrust into the insecurities of a 12-year-old?
Months ago I was asked to join a female business group. It was with women I respected and truly enjoyed. Because of my teaching schedule, I missed the first meeting where ground rules were set. When the second meeting rolled around, I found myself struggling to find someone to watch my 4-year-old. There was a secret, private, exclusively important Facebook group created and I was included as a member. I mentioned in a post that I may have to bring him, but will keep him sufficiently occupied with headphones and an Ipad so the meeting could go on as scheduled.
Little did I know that these amazing women gathered to discuss my need to bring my child to their meeting. I received a phone call saying he wasn't welcome. The falling deck of cards that resulted from that discussion really bothered me, but it wasn't until I was banished from the secret, private, exclusively important Facebook group that I felt the pain of rejection. I wasn't even told about it. Just one day, it disappeared from my list of groups.
A close friend of mine writes an advice column. I discussed with her how the insecurities that I haven't had since middle school started to creep into my existence. I couldn't understand how Facebook was the catalyst to feeling like I wasn't important anymore. How can that be?
She read me an excerpt from one of the letters seeking her advice: 'I see pictures of my sorority sisters together on Facebook and it makes me sad that I wasn't invited. I thought we were all friends. They accepted my friend request, why am I never invited to join them?' My friend then asked me to guess the author's age. I assumed 20. The person that wrote the letter was 42.
No matter how secure and successful we are, there is a primal need to feel accepted. Facebook magnifies those insecurities and puts them on "paper" for you and the world to see. When you post something, do you measure your success by the number of Likes you receive? If you put a picture up that you think is amazing, and no one comments on it, do you feel like maybe you should take it down? If you think about it, Facebook is the ultimate forum for people to tell you if they like or don't like what you have to say.
I'm disappointed in myself that I let a ridiculous Facebook banishment affect how I feel about myself. However, I do believe everything happens for a reason. I also think, months later, I've discovered the purpose of Facebook putting me into a tailspin. My daughter had been upset for days and after prodding her countless times, she finally relayed a long story about a former best friend. It resulted in my daughter being taken off of a Facebook group that she was intricately involved with and enjoyed immensely. She cried about no longer being included in that group of friends, she cried about feeling the group was moving on without her and she cried about the fact that maybe nobody thought she was important anymore. Every time she logged on Facebook, she thought about the group that didn't want her anymore.
I was quiet for a long time and let her vent. She looked up at me and said, "I know you don't get it and you're going to say 'just stop going on Facebook' - it's not that simple. You just don't understand."
I gave her a slight grin, and replied, "I think I might get it this time..."